Administration of Agriculture Sector
- 11 Jun 2019
- 5 min read
Agricultural distress in the country and the inability of the State to deal with the problem is raising the demand of shifting agriculture from State list to the Concurrent list.
- Entry 14 of State list of Schedule VII of the constitution mentions agriculture as a state subject.
- Agriculture, including agricultural education and research; protection against pests and prevention of plant diseases.
- Government of India Act, 1935 has provided to keep agriculture in the hands of the states.
- The logic then was that since agriculture was basically region-specific and depended primarily on local agro-ecological conditions and native natural resources, the provincial administrations would be better placed to look after it.
- The predominantly subsistence type of agriculture in vogue in those days was, more or less, self-contained with little inter-regional interactions for procuring inputs or selling the output. The problems besetting the farmers, too, were generally location-specific.
- Integrated economy: The modern agriculture transgresses regional boundaries with inter-state commercial dealings being part of the game. Agriculture is also getting integrated with other sectors of the economy, notably trade, industry and services.
- Policy initiatives and regulatory decisions are taken by one state can now affect, directly or tacitly, the agri-economy of the other states as well.
- Dependence on states: At present, the Centre has to rely on the state governments to implement even those farm development and farmer’s welfare schemes that are sponsored and funded by it.
- The decisions concerning support prices of crops, institutional credit and agri-commodities trade, both domestic and international, are taken by the Centre
- Important legislation: having a significant bearing on agriculture have been enacted by Parliament and are being administered by the Centre.
- The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act.
- The Biological Diversity Act.
- The National Food Security law.
- In-effective initiatives: to address the farmer’s problems and to boost their incomes are not delivering the expected results because of non-cooperation of some state governments.
- The notable ones among these are the crop insurance scheme; the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) and Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aayy Sanrakshan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA) to ensure remunerative prices for the farm produce.
- Some vital reforms concerning agricultural marketing, land leasing, contract farming and a few others are not making much headway for the same reason.
- An unbridled control of the states over the farm sector is, therefore, posing problems and proving counterproductive.
- Joint responsibility: The bulk of the funding for rural infrastructure, irrigation and other farm development programmes comes from the Centre.
By placing agriculture in the Concurrent List, serving farmers and saving farming becomes a joint responsibility of the Centre and the states.
- M.S. Swaminathan-headed National Commission on Farmers in his fifth and final report submitted in October 2006 has recommended shifting agriculture from the State List to the Concurrent List of the Constitution.
- This would allow the Union government to have a greater and a relatively more decisive say in the matters related to agriculture and farmers without majorly diluting the powers of the state governments.
- The Dalwai committee: on the issue of doubling farmer's income, has also pitched for placing farm marketing in the Concurrent List to enable the Centre to revamp agricultural mandi’s, improve their functional efficiency and expand the rural marketing infrastructure.
- In the past, the Constitution has been altered to switch items from one List to another.
- The 42nd amendment, carried out in 1976, had shifted five subjects, including forests and wildlife protection, from the State List to the Concurrent list.
- Looking at the significance of the issue and the potential gains from it, all political parties should support another Constitution amendment to put agriculture in the Concurrent List for the benefit of the farmers.